Prof. Michele Parrinello has received the 2017 Dreyfus Prize

Prof. Parrinello receives the Prize from Henry C. Walter, President of the Dreyfus Foundation.
Prof. Parrinello receives the Prize from Henry C. Walter, President of the Dreyfus Foundation.
Prof. Parrinello receives the Prize from Henry C. Walter, President of the Dreyfus Foundation.
Prof. Parrinello receives the Prize from Henry C. Walter, President of the Dreyfus Foundation.

Institutional Communication Service

21 September 2017

Michele Parrinello, Full Professor at the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) and ETH Zurich, was awarded the 2017 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, conferred this year in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry, during a ceremony held on Wednesday, September 20th, 2017, at the USI Lugano campus. The international prize consists of $250,000, a medal, and a citation. Prof. Parrinello is the first recipient from outside of the United States.

Parrinello is awarded "for his groundbreaking developments of molecular dynamics simulation methodology and associated landmark studies of chemical, material, and biomolecular systems".

“Innovations in theoretical and computational chemistry underpin our understanding of biological interactions, chemical dynamics and structure, as well as many beneficial chemical technologies. Michele Parrinello is a giant in the field, whose innovations are widely used in chemistry, biology, materials science, and engineering,” stated Matthew Tirrell, Chair of the Dreyfus Foundation Scientific Affairs Committee and Founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

The Rector of USI, Boas Erez, commented: “This recognition honors a life and a career devoted to research in one of the most promising fields of contemporary science, which thanks to the work of Prof. Parrinello finds at USI a fertile ground for development within the Institute of Computational Science."

ETH President Lino Guzzella adds: “I warmly congratulate Professor Parrinello for winning this award. It pays tribute to his excellent work in research and teaching, while at the same time highlighting the exceptional scientific climate that prevails at ETH Zurich and consistently fosters outstanding performance”.

The ceremony video is available from the USI YouTube profile:


The impact of Parrinello’s work is such that he is one of the most cited scientists in the present day. He is renowned for co-devising the Car–Parrinello method for computer simulation of the movements of atoms and molecules. This work brought together, for the first time, the classical approach of molecular dynamics with a quantum theoretical approach for electron densities. This enabled the realistic exploration of a wide range of physical situations. Prior to this Parrinello had become distinguished for developing the Parrinello–Rahman method to study phase transitions in crystals.

More recently, he has developed what is called metadynamics and subsequently announced an efficient variational sampling process. This has allowed the calculation of complicated phenomena such as protein folding, crystallization from a liquid, or the binding of drugs to protein receptors. Born in Messina, Italy, Parrinello received his Italian Laurea in physics from the University of Bologna in 1968. He has received many international honors including the Dirac Medal, the Rahman Prize, the Hewlett-Packard Europhysics Prize (all with Roberto Car), the Schroedinger Medal, the Enrico Fermi Prize, the Marcel Benoist Prize, and the American Chemical Society Award in Theoretical Chemistry. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, Socio corrispondente of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), and a Member of the Royal Society (UK), the European Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and others.


The Institute of Computational Science
Prof. Parrinello works at the Institute of Computational Science (ICS): 


The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
The Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, based in New York, is a leading non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of the chemical sciences. It was established in 1946 by chemist, inventor, and businessman Camille Dreyfus, who directed that the Foundation's purpose be “to advance the science of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences as a means of improving human relations and circumstances throughout the world.” For further information: